How to Avoid a Rear-End Collision

How to Avoid a Rear-End Collision

As the most common type of accident, rear-end collisions pose risks to everyone. In order to prevent one from happening to you, engage in cautious driving habits, including leaving a space cushion between you and other drivers, and acknowledging the speed limit.

Rear-end collisions are the top fleet-related accident, accounting for 11.5% of all reported accident types. While the resulting damage adds up in terms of dollars, the personal cost is also high. Rear-end collisions cause approximately 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injuries every year, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Commonly caused by tailgating, speeding, and distractions behind the wheel, you don’t have to be one of the statistics. There are steps you can take today by making some fundamental changes to your driving habits.

Tailgating: Tailgating is a dangerous activity, whether you are following a vehicle too closely or being followed. If you are being tailgated, exercise patience and resist the urge to do a “brake check,” or suddenly brake to communicate your frustration to the person behind you. This only increases aggressive behavior, and is likely to cause an accident if the other driver is following too closely and is speeding. The safest option is to pull over when possible and allow the aggressive driver to pass you.

On the other end of the spectrum, do not tailgate other drivers under any circumstances. While it can be frustrating if another vehicle is going particularly slowly, it is your duty to exercise cautious habits and leave a generous space cushion so you have sufficient time to react if there is a sudden stop in the traffic ahead. Instead of engaging in dangerous tailgating activity, if possible, change lanes to get away from following behind a slow-moving driver — particularly if they are driving significantly under the speed limit or are driving erratically. This could be a sign that this driver is engaging in dangerous activity, such as texting.

In heavy stop-and-go freeway traffic it may be unavoidable to drive at less-than-ideal following distances. In these instances, exercise caution, continuously scan the traffic around you, and ahead in case the slow traffic is due to a crash or road hazard.

Speeding: You need to always be aware of the designated speed limit and strictly follow it. Drivers need to be cautious about speed especially when carrying large loads, which create more kinetic energy,  and are more difficult to bring to a stop, and can result in a rear-end collision with the vehicle in front of you.  The bottom line is that speeding is reckless driving.

Distracted driving: Distractions, such as texting, inputting directions into your GPS, changing the radio, eating, and driving while drowsy — either from not getting a good night’s sleep or from a prescribed medication — could cause you to follow too closely or drive too slowly, making you ripe to become a statistic.

Avoid any activities while driving that will take your mind or eyes off the road. If you need to input directions on your GPS, get on an important phone call, or catch lunch, pull over.

Is Technology the Answer?

An increasing number of vehicles — many of them finding their ways into fleets — are being equipped with forward collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems, which may reduce rates of rear-end crashes by 39%, according the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The systems warn the driver if a crash is imminent, and if no action is taken, the brakes will automatically engage.

Vehicles equipped with just a forward collision warning saw 23% lower rates of car crashes between 2010 and 2014, based on police-reported crash data from 22 states.

While this technology is impressive and effective, safety begins with you. Maintaining a safe following distance is among the most important habits you can cultivate in your daily driving routine. Don’t become a statistic.

Drive Safely!

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